Boston, Lincolnshire: Organised Crime Gangs ‘Putting Lives At Risk’ With Counterfeit Alcohol

22 Jul

Fake Alcohol 'Is Putting Lives At Risk'

Fake Alcohol ‘Is Putting Lives At Risk’

Fake alcohol for sale in shops, bars and clubs is putting lives at risk as counterfeiters try to make money, Sky News has found.

Chemicals used in anti-freeze, screen-wash and cleaning fluid have been discovered in spirits, beer and wine up and down the country.

Consultant Vikas Sodiwala believes a growing number of patients have been coming into accident and emergency at Lincoln County Hospital thinking their drinks have been spiked, when if fact they have drunk fake alcohol brands.

“It can be extremely dangerous,” he said.

“The abdominal pain can be severe, and they will need medication to get on top of that.”

He said that one outcome can be permanent blindness: “It can lead to liver failure. It can lead to kidney failure and it can ultimately lead to death.”

In March, Lincolnshire Trading Standards, the police and Her Majesty’s Revenue And Customs raided three stores in Boston.

They found fake Smirnoff vodka containing the solvent isopropanol.

Two of the shops raided at the time lost their alcohol licences and another had its licence suspended.

Last week, in the same town, five men lost their lives during an explosion at what was believed to be an illegal vodka distillery set up in an industrial unit.

But it is not just a problem in Boston – counterfeit alcohol is being sold around the country.

Some of it is manufactured in sheds and back rooms but the majority, it seems, is the work of organised crime gangs.

Chief Inspector Lee Pache, of Lincolnshire Police, said: “Talking to my colleagues in other areas – if you look at the infrastructure that takes place for the production of this alcohol, the bottling and also the outsourcing to other parts of the country, it is clearly a huge problem.”

Last year, six men were jailed for a total of 56 years after their fake vodka factory was uncovered in Hackney, London.

It was capable of producing 24 bottles a minute and churned out 1.3 million litres of the counterfeit spirit.

In all, alcohol fraud costs the UK around £600m a year in unpaid duty.

Trading standards officers say fake brands can sometimes be difficult to detect, but typical warning signs are spelling mistakes, inconsistant fill levels in bottles and “wonky” labels.

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